SpaceX will launch a new batch of Iridium communications satellites on a used Falcon 9 rocket this morning (March 30) and you can watch the liftoff live.
The Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites into orbit from SpaceX's Space Launch Complex-4E pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Liftoff is set for 10:13 a.m. EDT (7:13 a.m. PDT/1413 GMT) — just after sunrise on the West Coast. You can watch the launch live here, courtesy of SpaceX, or directly from SpaceX's website here, beginning about 15 minutes before liftoff.
Today's mission, called Iridium-5, will be the fifth of eight SpaceX flights for Iridium Communications to loft a constellation of 75 Iridium Next satellites by mid-2018. When complete, the constellation will consist of 66 operational satellites and nine spares in orbit. SpaceX launched the first four missions (totaling 40 satellites) in 2017.
SpaceX initially aimed to launch the Iridium-5 mission Thursday (March 29), but a technical glitch with one of the satellites forced a delay. After eyeing a potential slip to the weekend, the glitch was resolved Tuesday.
"Falcon 9 and payload are healthy—the teams at Vandenberg are now targeting Friday, March 30 at 7:13 a.m. PDT for the launch of Iridium-5," SpaceX representatives wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
For Iridium-5, SpaceX is using the same Falcon 9 first-stage booster that launched 10 Iridium Next satellites in October 2017 on the Iridium-3 mission. Iridium Communications became SpaceX's first customer to fly satellites on the same rocket last December, when the Iridium-4 mission launched on a booster that also flew the Iridium-2 mission earlier that year.
However, SpaceX will not attempt to land the Iridium-5 booster on its West Coast drone ship Just Read the Instructions used for offshore rocket landings.
Today's launch is the first of two missions in four days for the Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX. Another used Falcon 9 rocket will launch an uncrewed Dragon cargo ship (which has also flown previously) to deliver NASA cargo to the International Space Station.
That cargo mission is scheduled to launch from SpaceX's pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, with Dragon arriving at the space station on Wednesday (April 4).